Stavesacre's 1997 album Absolutes is a great hard rocking album that modernizes old school metal. It can be melodic at times, but not as melodramatically as 80's cheese-metal hair-bands tended to be. This is metal for the thinking man!
While Mark Salomon's lead vocals have improved, some might find his high ends to be a little 80's-ish at times. Where he couldn't establish his range previously, he has matured here. Dirk Lemmes's bass is driving and crystal clear. It is heavy and crunchy, able to switch speeds in a split second. It seems like he is constantly pounding those strings.
Ryan Denee skillfully lays out the guitar as well, even after the band having changed guitarists. A later album adds another guitarist, but the sound doesn't fare any better as one might expect. The drums...ah, the drums. Sam West is simply marvelous, one of the best. His filler is no filler at all. He adds so much that he often teeters on overdoing it. If you are a drummer, you have to get this record for sure. I can't believe how he can set such paces yet is able to pre-empt them so suddenly, making his beats something to behold. He is a treat to listen to and a blur to watch.
"Shiv" is an immediate rocker, an introductory anthem that begs for freedom and understanding. "Sand Dollar" touches on trusting in The Intelligent Designer. "Colt .45" is an unapologetic expression of faith, sensitively cited amidst heavy music. "Inclusive" is also a heavy number that acknowledges God's sovereignty. "Wither/Ascend" (which will be played at my funeral) is an endearing committment no matter what life may bring and is later followed by a brief and mellow reprise. "Acquiesce" is a mid-tempo statement of confidence in divine providence. "An Eclipsing" is a layered call for significance, for purpose and meaning in life. "Two Heavens" is descriptive of two realms, of both temptation and hope. "Scarecrow" ends beautifully with a warning of impending judgement for all.
These guys are not preachy; they are real and they are certainly authentic. They take themselves seriously yet are still able to have some fun with it. Their passion is contagious and their intentions admirable. They are certainly a hard-working band and I have enjoyed meeting them.
While some feel that Speakeasy is better, this is still their most thorough effort. While they never really broke through into the popular market, they continue to be thought of respectfully by both fans and industry participants alike. While Mark can be abrupt, his intentions are always laudable. These guys are intense and can rock like no one else.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 1/28/10, written by Derek Lehman for Jesusfreakhideout.com
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